Buttonwillow, California

Buttonwillow is an unincorporated community in Kern County in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Buttonwillow is 26 miles west of Bakersfield, near the junction of Interstate 5 and Highway 58. Nearly 80% of its 1500 residents are Latino/a, with many residents being monolingual Spanish Speaking. Approximately 34% of residents are below the poverty line. Many residents are farmworkers.

A company called “Clean Harbors” operates a large hazardous waste landfill facility in Buttonwillow. The landfill has been allowed by county and state agencies to operate on a permit that expired in 2006. Greenaction’s Executive Director Bradley Angel was arrested during a Kern County public hearing on the landfill in 1994 for the “crime” of speaking Spanish, the language spoken by many residents.

The CalEPA/Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Envirostor website has information about the permit and regulatory history of the toxic waste dump. Click here to view this information.

California Environmental Protection Agency’s “CalEnviroScreen 3.0” ranks Buttonwillow as one of the communities in the state heavily impacted from pollution and other health and socio-economic indicators. Click here to view the report.

Exposure Indicators Percentile
Air Quality: Ozone: 85%
Air Quality: PM 2.5: 93%
Pesticide Use: 91%
Toxic Releases: 93%
Drinking Water Contaminants: 49%



Buttonwillow Fact Sheet (ENGLISH/SPANISH)